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Week 13 Preview: Baltimore Ravens (8-3) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-7)

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It’s no secret the Baltimore Ravens have struggled this season to follow up big victories when they face teams below .500. They have a chance to silence their critics this Sunday with a win over the Cleveland Browns.

(Credits: www.chronicle.northcoastnow.com)

The Ravens look to win a sixth straight divisional game, and seventh in a row against the Browns this Sunday.

At 8-3 Baltimore sits atop the AFC North having already successfully swept the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only does Baltimore sit in first place in the AFC North with their 8-3 record, but the team is also tied with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans for the best record in the conference. However, the Ravens could be in an even better position, had it not been for their three disappointing losses, which all came against teams that were under .500 at the time.

The Ravens hope those woes, which seem to follow them on the road, come to a halt as they travel to Cleveland after knocking off the San Francisco 49ers by a 16-6 score in the “Harbaugh Bowl” on Thanksgiving.

In perhaps the Ravens’ best defensive performance of the season, the team tied a franchise-record with nine sacks. Terrell Suggs was front and center for the defense, finishing with three sacks, while defensive end Cory Redding had a career night,  finishing with two and a half sacks. Offensively, Baltimore was able to put the game’s only touchdown drive together for either team, which was capped by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Dennis Pitta.

(Credits: Paul Abell/Associated Press)

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns come into this contest following a heartbreaking defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. Cleveland, though, failed to hold leads of 17-7 and 20-10, which came back to haunt them, as Bengals kicker Mike Nugent hit a 26-yard game-winning field-goal with 38 seconds left.

Just moments earlier, Cleveland’s Phil Dawson missed a 55-yard attempt at the other end following a bad snap. Earlier in the game, Dawson hit on a season-long 54-yarder, but long snapper Ryan Pontbriand’s toss back to the holder was low.

Cleveland has lost four of its last five games and has a tough road to end the season. Four of five Cleveland’s final contests may determine the winners of the division, as the Browns will square off against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, including a meeting in Baltimore Dec. 24.

On the flip side, the Ravens have won two straight, despite being without the services of their All-Pro middle linebacker, Ray Lewis. With a win Sunday, and the 2011 Ravens would join the 2006 Ravens as the only other team in franchise history to start a season at 9-3.